Seven first class races to contend with today, supported by a whole host of competitive racing across the country all of which tee’s up the main event of the Tingle Creek at Sandown at 15:00. Before I launch into the racing preview and my gold-standard selections, I want to briefly touch on something that I’ve been asked about a lot recently; “Graham, why are you not tipping winners?” I’ve left out some of the expletives that are normally common place in such “constructive” criticism via twitter. While it’s exceptionally annoying – the losing run as well as some twitter-types – it is an inevitability. Usain Bolt would have the same chance as Stephen Hawking at outrunning the governing laws of probability. However, we can prepare for an ‘expected' number of losers by just charting our ‘strike rate’ and average odds. This isn’t a maths lesson, but definitely one that punters need listening to as not only can it help make sense of what sometimes seem an unrelenting bout of bad luck, but will help the psychology of the game, which can so often lead to a lack of confidence.
I target the big race handicaps in this column, which you are lucky enough to read, which invariably means big, competitive fields and large odds to go with it. The average price of my selections are 9/1 (10.0) and I’ve tipped 25 selections and just 4 winners for a 16% strike rate. Using those numbers we can calculate the expected losing run, which amounts to; 18. We can ‘expect’ to have a losing run of 18 losers – if you are having just a few bets on Saturday that can add up to a long winter, but it’s not the method, not bad luck, not a bad ride or heaven forbid a “dodgy” one, but rather the effects of probability. A concept punters struggle with. Try it out for yourself. Here’s the formula to put in excel.
=Log(n)/-log(1-SR)= ELLS (change “n” to the number of selections, and “SR” to your strike rate as a decimal. So, a 16% strike rate would be 0.16). You’ll surprise yourself at how accurate it is, especially if you retrospectively look back through your records.
Onto the racing…
Sandown is the first port of call for today’s first hopeful, which goes in the 13:20 Pertemps Hurdle over 2m 5f. Sandown is an easy track in terms of its track layout, but the jumping is anything but. If you don’t jump, more so over fences, you don’t win. Just one wrong stride at a fence can knock a horses much needed momentum and ruin their chances.
Chris Gordon’s LIGHTENTERTAINMENT makes appeal in today’s race in just his third year of racing at the age of seven and looks to still be on an upward curve from his last win at Cheltenham off a mark of 126. Comes here off a mark of 130 which he’s placed two out of three runs since on ground that would be on the quick side for him. Soft underfoot conditions today will suit much better and can show him to best effect. Currently at 12/1 on the machine and 11/1 generally is well worth a look. It’s a fiercely competitive race and RUACANA and SIR MANGAN will be thereabouts, but at the prices there’s only one for me.
Over to Chepstow’s 14:00 for the 3m hurdle in which I think the David Pipes EPIC WARRIOR has a cracking chance to get back to winning ways over hurdles coming off a series of efforts on the flat. Has winning form on soft ground, but todays heavier conditions remain a relative unknown, but at a general 13/2 chance is worth finding out. Pipe runners can perhaps be accused of not seeing their races out of late, but after a season on the flat should mean this lad is fit and ready to go for his seasonal reappearance.
Staying at Chepstow for the 14:30 3m Grand National Trial chase for my next selection, which is out of the mighty Paul Nicholls stable in the shape of BENVOLIO who’s currently priced up as a 7/1 chance, which looks far too big to me. Dropped back to 3m having been pulled up in his last two starts he’s not especially well handicapped off 145, but Stan Sheppard takes 7 off, which should give him every chance on ground that will suit.